Sunday, July 5, 2009

Our first Marshallese Party

Last night we went to our first Marshallese Party. Baby K’s foster family invited us to their home to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. The party started at 7:00pm and we weren’t sure if that was the US 7:00pm or the Marshallese 7:00pm, because there is definitely a difference. Marshallese time is at least 30 minutes later than what is stated.

We arrived a little after 7:00pm and were the first guests. I have never seen so much food-rice in an 18 quart plastic container, large platters of grilled chicken and chicken wings, freshly husked coconuts, sliced breadfruit, fried fish, roasted pig, and other things that I couldn’t identify.

Most everyone here cooks meat on open grills outside over wood. You can almost always smell chicken grilling wherever you go. The fish was red snapper that Len had caught that day as part of a fishing tournament. Fisherman’s day is July 3rd and each year they have a big fishing tournament.

Mary and Len were so gracious and showed us around their home and more importantly, the home where Baby K spent the first 10 weeks of her life. They were so happy to see her. It was really touching to see how Len held her. It was so obvious that they cherished this baby while she was in their care.

My Dad would have been so impressed with Len’s garden-he had coconut trees, six different varieties of banana trees, cantalopes, melons, and some beautiful tropical flowers. He also had chickens, a pig and the biggest sea turtle that I’ve ever seen. Russ estimated that she probably weighed 125 pounds or more. In the Marshall Islands it is legal to eat sea turtle, you can’t sell the meat or parts, but it is traditional to eat it.

Mary gave all of us hand woven necklaces and two really beautiful shells for the girls. As we were leaving, Len gave us a bag of freshly husked coconuts and told us to look for “the face” on each one and then use something sharp to open what would be “the mouth”. Russ and I have looked at all of them and don’t see “the face”. We haven’t given up on them but we’re going to have to find something pretty sharp to open them with. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes:-)

The other day I tried a traditional Marshallese dish called pumpkin rice-delicious! The Marshallese eat it as a side dish but it is sweet like a dessert. It reminded me of rice pudding. We’ve made friends with the manager at Tides Table and I’m hoping to acquire the recipe before leaving. It would be an excellent addition to Thanksgiving dinner.

We made another trip to Laura Beach and enjoyed it even more than the first time. It’s hard to believe that this place isn’t crawling with tourists. I’ve posted some pics of the sea turtle, and of the girls at Laura Beach.

Baby K at Laura Beach

G at Laura Beach

Len and Baby K

Mary and Len's Turtle


  1. Wow, you all are having such a fascinating time! It's so neat that you have gotten to spend so much time with the foster parents - they sound like wonderful people. Your beach pictures are incredible. And the baby just looks so very healthy! She seems so alert in all the pictures, as if she knows exactly what's going on all the time. I hope that Gracie is finding some things to do. Oh, Sarah just woke up - gotta run. I think of you all often everyday! Take care, Wendy

  2. Wow! You guys are getting in some of the best experiences, learning so much about the foster family. I know you guys are honored to be aquiring so many of the customs, recipes & gifts for baby K. That's wonderful!
    She looks happy to be with you too.
    Hang loose!

  3. You guys are getting so many memories that you will be able to share with baby K. Even G. will be able to tell her about their time on the Island. Try to stand the coconut on end, the end that wants to stand is the face end, there will be three round eye looking circles, the bottom one is the one to crack. It is good that Len had husked them for you, getting the outer green cover off is a fun experience, need a machete(Big Knife) to do it; tried a hachet once, nearly lost a thumb. Fresh coconut milk is white honey, great to use in homemade cakes.
    Baby K is getting bigger with each photo, she is a Sweetie Pie.